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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Jan 2019 - 1 Feb 2019

Human Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2019 Jan 24

Sci Rep



Characterization of drug binding within the HCN1 channel pore.


Tanguay J, Callahan KM, D'Avanzo N
Sci Rep. 2019 Jan 24; 9(1):465.
PMID: 30679654.


Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels mediate rhythmic electrical activity of cardiac pacemaker cells, and in neurons play important roles in setting resting membrane potentials, dendritic integration, neuronal pacemaking, and establishing action potential threshold. Block of HCN channels slows the heart rate and is currently used to treat angina. However, HCN block also provides a promising approach to the treatment of neuronal disorders including epilepsy and neuropathic pain. While several molecules that block HCN channels have been identified, including clonidine and its derivative alinidine, lidocaine, mepivacaine, bupivacaine, ZD7288, ivabradine, zatebradine, and cilobradine, their low affinity and lack of specificity prevents wide-spread use. Different studies suggest that the binding sites of these inhibitors are located in the inner vestibule of HCN channels, but the molecular details of their binding remain unknown. We used computational docking experiments to assess the binding sites and mode of binding of these inhibitors against the recently solved atomic structure of human HCN1 channels, and a homology model of the open pore derived from a closely related CNG channel. We identify a possible hydrophobic groove in the pore cavity that plays an important role in conformationally restricting the location and orientation of drugs bound to the inner vestibule. Our results also help explain the molecular basis of the low-affinity binding of these inhibitors, paving the way for the development of higher affinity molecules.